With Spring approaching, we thought it appropriate that the business forum would address what we find to be an absolute necessity in business:  Customer Care.  Customer relationships or partnerships are the only way to ensure long-term success for either party.  The tips below provide some excellent thoughts on caring for a successful customer relationship.

Exactly how should you care for your customers?

*  FEEDING – Just like Perennials, you must feed your customers.  Feed them with attention.  Show them that you care.  Feed them information about your company, your new products, the market place, their competitors, and any other information that can help their business grow.  Even though they are already a client of yours doesn’t mean they know everything going on in your business.  If you won an award, expanded your business, delivered a new product or service, or changed in any way, let them know.  This shows them that you are not stagnating and will continue to be there for them in the future.

*  WEEDING – Don’t let your customers get choked by problems.  Just like clearing deadly weeds from around your flowers, help solve problems for your customers.  Your sales ordering and delivery processes should be problem free.  If they aren’t, fix them.  If there’s a problem with your product or service that is affecting your customer, do everything possible to resolve it.  The best way to know if there are any problems is to ask.  Don’t wait for your customers to call you with problems.  Call them and ask how things are going and be prepared to jump to the rescue if there are problems.  Just like Perennials, weed before they start to die.

*  SPRAYING – You don’t want those pesky bugs destroying your Perennials.  Likewise, you don’t want those pesky competitors destroying the relationships you have with your customers.  Prevent that from happening by ensuring you have a healthy, positive relationship with your client so when a competitor comes calling, your client isn’t prone to listen.  We all know someone who pays a little more or travels a little farther to deal with a business simply because they like the relationship they have with them.  It isn’t always about money, but it’s almost always about the relationship.  Keep the bugs, and competitors, away.

*  PRUNING – Perennials need to be pruned, or cut back, to prevent wild growth.  Wild growth is not just unsightly, but it is bad for the plant, since the food and water cannot reasonably satisfy the requirements of an overgrown plant.  The result could be weak and sickly looking flowers.  Businesses need to prune their customers as well or else they will grow larger than their capacity to service their clients successfully.  Don’t be afraid to walk away from business.  If it is too large for you to handle, don’t let greed cause you to take on too much and get over your head.  It will negatively affect the relationships with your existing customers.  Don’t be afraid to fire your customers.  If they are causing you to move into a direction that is not the focus of your business or that is not in line with your business plan, tell them so they can either work within your business strategy or move on to another vendor.  Controlled growth is good growth whether you are a business or a Perennial.

*  CARING – Perennials don’t grow healthy all by themselves.  The previous tips show there is a lot that needs to be done to ensure healthy plants.  This means you have to care for them and about them.  Same with your customers.  In addition to the previous tips, general caring is in order.  Stay in touch and don’t be a stranger.  You sold them your product, therefore, it is your responsibility to make sure it is indeed what they needed that it solved the problem in which it was intended, and that they know you honestly care about the success and growth of their business.  Caring means going beyond a client-vendor relationship.  It’s about a Partnership.  You take care of them, and they’ll take care of you- year after year.